Andrej Kukuca had a hat trick to lead the Seattle Thunderbirds to a 5-2 WHL win over the Moose Jaw Warriors on Tuesday night at the accesso ShoWare Center.
The T-Birds (22-27-3-3) are in the second wild-card playoff spot in the Western Conference. They are two points behind the Kelowna Rockets (24-26-2-2) for the first wild-card playoff spot. The Rockets have a game in hand on the T-Birds. The T-Birds and Rockets will meet on March 6 in Kelowna in their fourth and final game of the season.
Moose Jaw took a 1-0 lead on Eric Alarie’s goal three minutes into the first period.
Seattle tied the game 1-1 at 1:09 of the second period. Conner Roulette took a pass from Brendan Williams at the top of the left circle. Roulette skated into the left circle and made a toe drag move and then snapped the puck between Moose Jaw goalie Brock Gould’s legs for his 18th goal of the season. Cade McNelly had the second assist.
The Warriors went in front on Kyle Crosbie’s goal at 7:46 of the second period.
Kukuca tied the game 2-2 at 18:11 of the second courtesy of a nice pass from Williamson. Williams wheeled around the offensive zone and at the goal line to the right of the net he passed the puck to Kukuca in the low slot. Kukuca beat Gould on the blocker side. Matthew Rempe had the second assist.
Kukuca scored his second goal of the night at 5:38 of the third period and it was unassisted. Kukuca blocked a shot at the left point and the puck went into the neutral zone. Kukuca chased the puck down the right wing and on a partial breakaway beat Gould over the blocker.
Seattle extended the led to two at 11:09 of the third on a shorthanded goal by Max Patterson. Kai Uchacz chipped the puck off the right wall to spring Patterson on a breakaway. Patterson skated at Gould and beat the goalie high with a move to his backhand. Tyrel Bauer had the second assist on the goal.
Moose Jaw pulled Gould with 3:17 left in the third period for an extra attacker. The T-Birds were able to capitalize on the empty net. Bauer passed the puck up the right wall to Payton Mount. Mount passed the puck up to Kukuca who gained the red line and hit the empty net for his 22nd goal of the season.
Seattle goalie Roddy Ross had 19 saves in the game.
The T-Birds have a home-and-home series with the Portland Winterhawks on Friday and Saturday. They are in Portland on Saturday for a 7 p.m. puck drop, then at ShoWare Center on Saturday at 6:05 p.m. The game on Saturday is being broadcast on JOEtv Channel 22/Cable 110.
Single-game tickets are on sale online and at the ShoWare box office.
Fans who purchase the 24-flex ticket package will be able to select any available premium seat for any game, in any ticket combination, during the 2019-20 season.
First period – 1, Moose Jaw, Alarie 6 (Lang), 3:00. Penalties – Popple, MJ (delay of game), 9:05. McNelly, Sea (interference), 13:28.
Second period – 2, Seattle, Roulette 18 (Williamson, McNelly), 1:09. 3, Moose Jaw, Crosbie 4 (Wright, Lang), 7:46. 4, Seattle, Kukuca 20 (Williamson, Rempe), 18:11. Penalties – Bruggen-Cate, Sea (interference), 10:52. Williamson, Sea (tripping), 15:49.
Third period – 5, Seattle, Kukuca 21, 5:38. 6, Seattle, Patterson 8 (Uchacz, Bauer), 11:09 (sh). 7, Seattle, Kukuca 22 (Mount, Bauer), 17:27 (en). Penalties – Gottfried, Sea (holding), 9:57.
Shots on goal – Seattle 19-16-19 54, Moose Jaw 7-6-8 21. Goalies – Seattle, Ross 21 shots-19 saves (18-19-3-3); Moose Jaw, Gould 53-48 (6-13-3-0). Power plays – Seattle 0-5; Moose Jaw 0-1. Referees – Stephen Campbell, Ryan O’Keefe. Linesmen – Nick Albinati, Eric McLaughlin.